This is the first of several blog posts where I'll discuss some of the biggest lies in fitness including so-called "Common Knowledge". Some of these lies have existed for decades and unfortunately are still widely believed. It's time to put an end to the misinformation and lies once and for all!
LIE #1 - HIGH REPS MAKE YOU MORE DEFINED
Although there is some evidence to suggest that high reps might induce some extra capillary intrusion into a muscle, they'll do nothing to make a muscle harder or more defined. If a completely sedentary person began lifting weights using either lower reps OR higher reps, he or she would experience a rapid increase in TONUS, the degree of muscular contraction that the muscle maintains even when the muscle is relaxed. This will happen regardless of rep range. The only way that high reps would make a muscle more defined is if, by doing a higher number of reps, your body as a whole was in a negative energy balance, and you were burning more calories than you were ingesting. The truth is that lower reps will build rock hard muscles. You just have to get the fat off them to see it! Obviously there's nothing wrong with higher reps and certainly for endurance and stamina, it's very useful. But you will not get more defined simply by adding 5 to 10 more reps!
LIE #2 - YOU CAN USE "SHAPING" EXERCISES TO RESHAPE YOUR MUSCLES
You can't limit growth to one area of a muscle! If you recall, the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, had tremendous biceps. Thick and full, BUT they didn't have much of a peak. The shape of your biceps (or any other muscle) is determined by your genetic makeup. When you train a muscle, the "All Or Nothing Principle" applies. Each muscle fiber recruited to do a lift (along the entire length of the muscle) is contracted fully. Why would a certain number of them, such as the middle of your biceps, grow differently than others? If anything the muscle cells closer to the insertion points are subject to greater stress. You don't see them increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the muscle, do you? If they did, everyone would have proportions like Popeye The Sailor Man! What often happens is that people will train a previously neglected muscle such as the side and rear deltoid heads and because the shoulder muscles are now more balanced AND proportioned, people think they have "reshaped" their muscles!
LIE #3 - WEIGHT TRAINING MAKES YOU BIG, AEROBICS MAKES YOU DEFINED
Manipulations i n your nutrient intake are the main factor in getting defined. If your daily caloric expenditure exceeds your daily intake on a consistent basis, you will lose fat. Aerobic exercise is meant to improve cardiovascular efficiency, but if you do it long enough, you will burn calories and in the long run, lose fat. However, weight training can also do this. And if it's done in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) manner, it's even better. In fact, studies have shown that HIIT can burn fat up to 3 times faster than steady state cardio exercise. And there's also the Afterburn (EPOC) effect which puts you in fat burning mode even up to 36 hours after the workout is done! In addition to this, the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more fat you'll burn just sitting there. So don't worry! It's impossible for you to accidentally turn yourself into The Hulk or the She-Hulk!